I was stuck in Denver when everyone I knew back home was heading to Washington D.C. on that chilly October 16 Monday morning. The black leaders in Denver were hesitant and skeptical to run busses to DC. Oh, but when it was all said and done, they all acted like they were in full support.
One of my co-workers went. He was a t-shirt designer and took a few cases to sell while in DC. He came back mad at me for not insisting that he take more because he said he could have sold hundreds more.
I took the day off ‘slick.’ It’s 2-hours earlier in Denver so I woke early and had all 3 VCRs cued up to record from every channel that was broadcasting it. I’ve got hours of coverage from the networks, CNN, BET and C-Span (Fox News wasn’t invented yet). I’ve always wanted to digitize those tapes and create the story no one at the Million Man March ever saw because they were at the march.
I watch those grainy VHS tapes on my old VCR every now and then and it’s amazing to see the Who’s Who of 1995 and what they look like now. Many of them are no longer around or no longer a Who’s Who. So many are on tape bashing the march in their pre-event interviews only to switch up like the Denver black leaders and suddenly be in full support after the event turned out as epic as it did.
Every October 16, I dust off that old t-shirt I got from my Denver co-worker and watch or listen to Minister Louis Farrakhan’s speech from the Million Man March. To me, it’s one of the greatest speeches I’ve ever heard. It ranks right up there with those other speeches that came out of DC. Unfortunately, it’s all but forgotten and we’re never reminded of what was actually said in that speech.
I was listening to WURD 900am radio on Monday and the callers were reminiscing on their MMM experiences and one guy starting repeating, ‘I _ SAY YOUR NAME…I _ SAY YOUR NAME…’ I had to chuckle. That was at the end of Farrakhan’s speech as he was presenting the Million Man March Pledge. But, he delivered over an hour of material before he got to that point and most of it has been relegated to the scrap heap.
Since I listen to the speech every year, I kinda know what’s coming. But, listening to it this year took on a different flavor. If I didn’t know that speech was delivered in 1995, it could easily be mistaken for something he’d espouse today. Every time I listen there’s something that strikes me differently and this year the following passages stood out…
Whoever is entrusted with the task of pointing out wrong, depending on the nature of the circumstances, is not always loved. In fact, more than likely, that person is going to be hated and misunderstood. Such persons are generally hated because no one wants to be shown to be wrong, particularly when you’re dealing with governments with principalities, with powers, with rulers, with administrations – when you’re dealing with forces which have become entrenched in their evil; intractable and unyielding. Their power produces an arrogance, and their arrogance produces a blindness. And out of that evil state of mind they will do all manner of evil to the person who points out their wrong, even though you’re doing good for them by pointing out where they went wrong.
Power has made America arrogant. Power and wealth has made America spiritually blind. And the power and the arrogance of America makes you refuse to hear a child of your slaves pointing out the wrong in your society.
Look at the afflictions that have come upon us in the black community. We’re being afflicted because God wants us to humble ourselves to the message that will make us atone and come back to him and make ourselves whole again.
Why is God afflicting America – the world? In the last 10 years America has experienced more calamities that in any other time period in American history. God is angry. He’s not angry because you’re right; he’s angry because you’re wrong and America wants to stone and kill the people who want to help you see your wrong.
I point out the evils to black people like no other leader does. My people don’t call me anti-black because they know I must love them in order to point out what’s wrong so we can get it right…
You can’t point out wrong with malice or hatred. If we point out wrong with bitterness and hatred then the bitterness and hatred becomes a barrier between you and the person who you hope to get right.
We pointed out the wrong of America with the pain of our hurt, the pain of our suffering, the bitterness of our life story.
He goes on to give a detailed description of white supremacy that is in concert with all the new race books flying off the shelves this year. However, that type of talk in 1995 was rare and I imagine not well received to whom it applied. He encouraged the attendees to go home and register 8 million people to vote and join organizations that uplift the community.
I discovered Minister Louis Farrakhan in 11th grade, 1977. I saw him speak at Chester High in 1978. I consider him a black preacher. Over the course of a year, I listen to many black preachers and some I enjoy more than others. Where many black preachers have come and gone, Farrakhan has been consistently delivering sermons for a very long time and they are always accessible to listen to.
When folks say he’s full of hate and terror, I must be missing those sermons and speeches. I can’t say I’ve heard a lot of them, but the ones I’ve heard always seem to encourage black folks to get themselves together and stop making excuses for their failures. I subscribe to the Final Call newspaper digital edition and it has the best black news coverage of any source on any media platform in the county, by far. Even in the Final Call, I can’t find the hate and terror people assign to him. But, I can turn on the TV right now and find hate and terror within seconds on any number of news channels.
Needless to say, I’m a fan of the memory of the Million Man March. I wish it was recognized as an event we would still make and effort to learn from in the black community. Go on YouTube and listen to the speech for yourself. Share it with those 30-and-under youngsters who probably never heard it. The message is timeless.
One of these days I’m going to get my MMM video together – hopefully before the VHS tapes deteriorate.
Since I brought it up, I figured I’d share the Million Man March Pledge that Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered at the end of his speech and had the crowd repeat after him out loud on October 16, 1995.
I PLEDGE that from this day forward I will strive to love my brother as I love myself. I, from this day forward, will strive to improve myself spiritually, morally, mentally, socially, politically and economically for the benefit of myself, my family and my people. I pledge that I will strive to build businesses, build houses, build hospitals, build factories and enter into international trade for the good of myself, my family and my people.
I PLEDGE that from this day forward I will never raise my hand with a knife or a gun to beat, cut, or shoot any member of my family or any human being except in self-defense. I pledge from this day forward I will never abuse my wife by striking her, disrespecting her, for she is the mother of my children and the producer of my future. I pledge that from this day forward I will never engage in the abuse of children, little boys or little girls for sexual gratification. For I will let them grow in peace to be strong men and women for the future of our people.
I WILL never again use the ‘B word’ to describe any female. But particularly my own Black sister. I pledge from this day forward that I will not poison my body with drugs or that which is destructive to my health and my well-being. I pledge from this day forward I will support Black newspapers, Black radio, Black television. I will support Black artists who clean up their acts to show respect for themselves and respect for their people and respect for the ears of the human family. I will do all of this so help me God.